October 4, 2022
American Airlines flight diverted following an assault by a passenger, airline says
An American Airlines flight was diverted Wednesday evening after a passenger reportedly assaulted a flight attendant.Flight 976 had departed New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and was headed to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, but was diverted to Denver because of the incident, the airline said.Law enforcement apprehended the passenger at the…

An American Airlines flight was diverted Wednesday evening when a passenger allegedly assaulted a flight attendant.

Flight 976 had departed New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and was headed to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, but was diverted to Denver because of the incident, the airline said. According to American Airlines,

Law enforcement arrested the passenger at the gate.

The airline did not give any additional information or describe the condition of the flight attendant.

“American Airlines will not tolerate violence against our team members,” the airline stated in a written statement. American Airlines will not allow the individual responsible for this incident to travel with American Airlines again, but we won’t be satisfied until he is tried to the fullest extent of the law. This behavior must be stopped. The best way to deter it is to enforce the law and prosecute the perpetrator. “

The identity of the passenger has not been disclosed and there were no details about any charges.

Denver Airport Police confirmed that the flight was diverted to Denver at 6 p.m., and stated that the FBI is investigating.

The flight left Denver for Orange County about 9: 30 p.m., according to American Airlines.

Reports of violence against crew members and unruly behavior on aircraft have increased since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration show 923 investigations have been initiated this year into violations of specific regulations or federal laws.

The number is up from 183 last year and 146 in 2019. Prior to 2021, the most investigations initiated in the 26-year period dating back to 1995 was 310 in 2004.

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost her two front teeth in May after a passenger punched and pulled her hair ,, according to court records. The attendant asked the passenger to fasten the seatbelt, remove her tray table, and wear her mask properly during the descent.

According to court documents, the passenger claimed she was acting in self defense.

She was accused of assaulting and interfering with flight crew members and attendants. She pleaded not guilty according to court records.

As of Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration has received 4,941 reports of unruly behavior by passengers this year, including 3,580 reports of mask-related incidents.

The rate of these incidents has dropped about 50 percent since record highs earlier this year, but FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in September that progress needs to continue.

” This remains a serious safety risk, and one incident can be too many,” Dickson stated in a written statement. The FAA does not have the authority to prosecute criminal cases, but it can levy fines. In January, it implemented a zero tolerance campaign that allowed it to issue warning letters without imposing fines.

This fiscal year, more than $1,000,000 has been imposed with fines on passengers in response to allegations of unruly conduct.

Claire Cardona

Claire Cardona is a breaking news editor for NBC News Digital based in Dallas.

Jay Blackman

and

Juliette Arcodia

contributed.

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